Posted On: 07/01/2016
4916 Shaw Ave., St. Louis, 314.469.0628, gaslightstl.com
With an upbeat vibe and a focus on the fundamentals (stiff cocktails, smooth music and superior bar food), Gaslight Lounge is a unique and highly enjoyable little drinking hole. Here are a few reasons to check out The Hill’s newest cocktail bar/taco spot/recording studio.
The Concept Stepping inside Gaslight, you’ll find a fully functional music lair. Tall glass windows at the far end of the bar encase a high-end recording studio and working music school – a showcase of local talent who jam for the bar patrons outside to enjoy. The dimly lit, repurposed industrial space is heavy with exposed brick and a bold red and dark gray color scheme, offset by warm wooden tables and black-and-white snapshots of St. Louis’ fabled Gaslight Square (to which the bar pays tribute). The intriguing, cover charge-free music concept is pulled off well. On several visits, I was treated to up-tempo jazz acts whose sharp notes melted into the background, creating the lively atmosphere of a jazz club. On any given night, this could be a heavy metal venue or even a bluegrass bar. Despite its Spartan decor, the bar retains a laid-back lounge feel energized by music.
The Bar Beer nerds and thirsty frat boys do equally well at this contemporary cool saloon. The former could choose around 10 regional taps, including Urban Chestnut, Civil Life, 4 Hands and Modern Brewery. The latter had the option of Budweiser, Miller High Life, Stella Artois and even Modela Especial. The cocktail menu was a quirky pleasure to mull over and held some gems, including the Pepe A Go Go: a masterful spin on the classic mojito that introduced fresh basil along with mint and smooth jasmine liqueur to even out spiced rum. The Smokey Joe was a heavier, spicy-sweet smack across the face, blending bourbon and mezcal with hot habanero syrup and orange bitters. It was one of those drinks that immediately made the night warm and happy. But not everything is as impressive. The Crystal Palace, with vodka, lemon, sparkling white wine and crème de violette, ended up falling flat into watered-down disappointment. Likewise, the Greenwich Corners overly diluted a perfectly good bottle of Still 630 rye in its poor take on a Manhattan.
The Food Gaslight is well served by the attached Cha Cha Chow on Shaw, a brick-and-mortar of the much-loved food truck. After ordering at the counter, you can walk next door and kick back with a cocktail at Gaslight until the kitchen texts when your food is up. While heavy on tacos, my favorite offerings were the cheese and pork pupusas, exclusively offered at this location. The stuffed, melted delights paired rich adobo pork with smooth white cheddar cheese inside a deliciously charred tortilla, served with a side of slaw and hot salsa. The Cha Cha Burger, a tiny but tasty little guy, packed a poblano punch, served on a fantastically crispy baguette alongside a decadent handful of seasoned fries.
The Crowd On the far east fringe of The Hill neighborhood, Gaslight draws a solid group of young urban professionals and smartly dressed 20- to 40-something patrons. Still in its infancy, the place is hardly overflowing, but the intimacy is also part of its charm. Gaslight is an easygoing, secluded destination perfect for couples nights or a casual evening out with friends. Though still finding its feet, Gaslight is an inspired and exceptional one-stop shop for booze, music, grub and good times.
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